Now I know better and disagree that clipless pedals are of little benefit to casual riders unless you are VERY casual. If you only ride in flat areas, their benefits may not be as obvious but in the hills they are almost essential. The LBS certainly didn't "bully" me into using them, experience did and I'd never go back.
I wonder if your SPD's are adjusted properly. I ride in both Speedplay Frogs (super easy exit and a lot of float) and Shimano SPD double sided pedals and find the SPD's very easy to enter and exit, even compared to the Speedplays. SPD's have a tension adjustment and perhaps yours need to be loosened.
As to "touring" pedals, I think Peterson is referring to quill pedals that accept toe clips and straps. Many "sneaker" platform pedals are not set up to fit toe clips and straps.